California’s Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) are slowly assuming the traditional utility role of acquiring renewable energy generation for customers. While the role is fairly new, the CCAs nonetheless are now faced with the massive task of securing 9 to 10 gigawatts of new clean energy to meet the state’s 2030 ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
This procurement role for the CCAs was fortified on April 25, when a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) vote that requires CCAs to develop Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) as a roadmap of future demand and procurement planning.
“In our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) decision, we set out the optimal 2030 portfolio of supply- and demand-side resources needed to achieve our state’s ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets within the electric sector. Under Senate Bill (SB) 350, the portfolio also must ensure reliable electricity at lowest cost to ratepayers,” wrote Commissioner Liane M. Randolph, in a CPUC blog on April 25.
The CPUC vote also strengthens CCAs in the state. “The new IRP reflects a seismic shift in procurement responsibility to CCAs as customer load continues to migrate from Investor-Owned Utilities to local, not-for-profit community choice energy programs,” said Beth Vaughan, executive director of the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA), in a statement. “The plan shows CCAs are committed to advancing new, cost-effective, clean energy resources at the scale and speed California requires,” she added.
The policy goals of SB 350 include: reductions in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions commensurate with economy-wide reductions of 40% from 1990 levels by 2030; a Renewables Portfolio Standard of 50 percent by 2030; and energy efficiency, storage, vehicle electrification, and other electricity resources, according to the CPUC.
The bill also would authorize the CPUC “to consider a multiyear centralized resource adequacy mechanism, among other options, to most efficiently and equitably meet specified resource adequacy objectives,” the bill reads. The Senate passed the bill on April 25, after which it was sent to the Assembly.
CCAs will be responsible for about 90% of the energy procurement that will be needed by 2030 to meet the SB 350 target, CalCCA says. While the aggregators plan to make long-term investments in more than 10 GW of new clean energy resources including solar, wind, geothermal, and energy storage by 2030, Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) and commercial Energy Service Providers (ESPs) plan to invest in approximately 1 GW of new resources combined, CalCCA has determined. CCAs are the load-serving entities (LSEs) “with the vast majority of planned new resource purchases through 2030,” according to the CPUC.
Given the small size and short operating history of the CCAs, several of the organizations are banding together to acquire energy supply contracts. For example, Silicon Valley Clean Energy is working with Monterey Bay Community Power for a joint request for proposal for 800,000 MWh of annual carbon-free energy to help achieve RPS and reliability needs, according to Monica Padilla, Director of Power Resources at SVCE.
Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a community-owned agency serving the majority of Santa Clara County communities, acquiring clean, carbon-free electricity on behalf of more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates low and promote clean energy programs. Member jurisdictions include Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, and unincorporated Santa Clara County.
Monterey Bay Community Power is a Community Choice Energy agency established by local communities to source carbon-free electricity for Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties, and now San Luis Obispo county. As a locally controlled not-for-profit, MBCP is not taxpayer funded and supports regional economic vitality by providing cleaner energy at a lower cost, supporting low-income rate payers, and funding local renewable energy projects.
Launched in 2016, the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) represents California’s community choice electricity providers before the state Legislature and at regulatory agencies, advocating for a level playing field and opposing policies that unfairly discriminate against CCAs and their customers. There are currently 19 operational CCA programs in California serving approximately 10 million customers.